The Hudson’s Bay Company’s 300th-anniversary celebration in 1970 was no occasion for joy among the people whose lives were tied to the trading stores. Narrated by George Manuel, then president of the National Indian Brotherhood, this landmark film presents Indigenous perspectives on the company whose fur-trading empire drove colonization across vast tracts of land in central, western and northern Canada. There is a sharp contrast between the official celebrations, with Queen Elizabeth II among the guests, and what Indigenous people have to say about their lot in the Company’s operations. Released in 1972, the film was co-directed by Martin Defalco and Willie Dunn—a member of the historic Indian Film Crew, an all-Indigenous production unit established at the NFB in 1968.
Following on from scenes of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s 300th anniversary celebration, with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in attendance, the film bears down on applying the Aboriginal voice to a rather blunt indictment of a history of inequality in the trade relationship between the HBC and their Indian and Métis suppliers. Co-directed by Willie Dunn of the NFB’s Indian Film Crew.Gil Cardinal
From the playlist: The Aboriginal Voice: the National Film Board and Aboriginal Filmmaking through the Years